Whether you think Microsoft's new Zune is a joke or a serious competitor to iPod, you have to love and appreciate the battle that J Allard is waging against Steve Jobs. While it's hard to think about Microsoft as an underdog to any company, the fact that Apple now owns 85% of the music download business, along with 67 million iPods sold tells you a lot about Zune's uphill battle.
Yet, Allard was the force behind Microsoft's XBox, which is now in the #2 position in game systems, and he's the father of the Zune. And he's not taking any crap from Apple as he attempts to heat up the competition. In a response to a slap at Microsoft by Steve Jobs ("They have no taste"), Allard has called out Jobs in an email to over 200 Zune staffers, by saying, "I for one...want to see this guy eat his words. Those are fighting words. He is speaking to every one of us and saying that we don't get it."
You have to love this process - the brash, angry challenger taking on the Goliath of mp3 players, and digital world's standard bearer of what is hip, Steve Jobs and Apple. We use to have those types of guys in radio, too.
Many of you still remember former Jacobs Media employee, Andy Bloom, who took that same tactic against WMMR back in the '80s when that station was at the pinnacle of its success. Everyone loved MMR in those days, whereas YSP was the station that couldn't get it done. Andy didn't care, and like Allard, did whatever it took to shake up the competition by going Classic Rock and becoming the first station to syndicate Howard Stern. Ultimately, YSP toppled MMR, and stayed on top for more than a decade.
And then there was the ongoing mouth wars that typified Howard Stern versus morning zoos, Howard Stern versus Mancow, and Opie & Anthony versus Howard Stern. Those battle cries seem a little dated now, but they allowed the audience to choose sides, pick a favorite, and defend their choice.
It doesn't always work, of course. Sometimes the underdog is in that position for a reason. But it also can be a great motivator for staffers who need that extra push. It gives people something to talk about, and it creates an air of competitiveness and buzz.
That Hatfield versus McCoy mentality is something that's sorely missing from radio these days.